01 March 2007

An iPhone super skin

Interface is, allegedly, king. At least that is what technology seems to be pushing at the moment. Windows Vista, Mac OSX and Linux/Compiz/Beryl all seem to be emphasizing looks, and hopefully usability, on the desktop.

In the mobile phone space this has hardly been ignored, but the sheer number of different platforms means that there is no unity of interface across them. I used to use a Nokia phone for instance, and was really reluctant to leave the Series 40 interface because all other interfaces were unfamiliar to me. The more cynical will suspect that manufacturers are doing a Microsoft (or an Apple for that matter), that is, making people so used to one interface that they are reluctant to switch to something different.

Currently, I am on my second Windows Mobile device, a Ubiquio 501 running Pocket PC phone edition. My previous Windows Mobile phone was a Motorola MPx200 running Smartphone edition(s) (see previous post), but even though the two platforms share a name, there was still a learning curve in the move between the two.

The iPhone interface, of course, has the web in a bit of a tizzy, and even I have created an iPhone skin. However, the chap in this video has taken it even further and gone as far as programming an iPhone-looky-likey screen lock and the flick-scroll interface for his Eten M600, another Pocket PC phone. I don't find either of those UI ideas particularly useful, but you have to admire the dedication and skill, and to a lesser degree the obsessiveness of the guy.

I also have a Samsung D830 which runs an Adobe-designed flash-based interface. This is pretty and works well. What I found most interesting though, is that Samsung have decided to copy their own interface, allowing it to run on Windows Mobile, and created a launcher for the new Samsung i718. While this is undoubtedly because they want to keep the user experience consistent whatever the platform, at the same time I can't help suspecting that no-one was going to rush out and slavishly copy the Samsung interface any time soon.

The real moral of this story? Interfaces come and go, what's fashionable now, may be unfashionable in a year. Go for hardware which is durable, and for software you can customize. You'll win every time!

Edit: Oops, it looks like Apple's aggressive legal team have forced YouTube to remove the video. However, you can download it here.

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